How to go incognito in all web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and Internet Explorer

A useful tool that any decent web browser offers is private browsing. This feature has a different name, depending on the browser that you are using. Google Chrome calls it Incognito, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge name it InPrivate, Firefox and Opera name it Private browsing. In this article we show you how to enable private browsing in all the major web browsers and how to check if you are browsing privately or not:

About InPrivate, Incognito or Private Browsing - What is this mode of browsing the web?

This feature mostly does the same thing: allows users to browse the web without saving data like cache, history, passwords or cookies. However, this is done locally, meaning that you hide what websites you have visited only from the people using your computer. The websites themselves, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and, in fact, every server your requests pass through, they still know what you visited.

However, some browsers offer more features for their private browsing mode. For example, Opera allows you to enable VPN when browsing so that your ISP cannot track the websites that you visit. Another positive example is Firefox, which blocks trackers from collecting information about your browsing behavior.

Another effect of going incognito/private when browsing the web is that your previous authentications on websites like your email are not available to this mode. If you need this authentication for your incognito/private session, you need to log in again.

If you need a shortcut for opening your favorite web browser in private browsing, read: How to create shortcuts to start your web browser InPrivate or Incognito.

How to start Google Chrome Incognito (CTRL+SHIFT+N)

Google calls private browsing Incognito. To open a new Incognito window, click or tap the "Customize and control Google Chrome" button in the top right corner of the browser window. It looks like three dots. Then, choose "New incognito window."

Open a new incognito window in Google Chrome

A new window is opened, explaining what incognito browsing means: Google Chrome does not save your browsing history, cookies and site data, and the information entered in forms (e.g., addresses, passwords, etc.). Any files you download or bookmarks you create are kept. Lastly, Incognito disables Google Chrome extensions but you can manually enable them to work in this mode too.

Going Incognito in Google Chrome

For fans of keyboard shortcuts, you should know that the shortcut for browsing Incognito in Google Chrome is CTRL+SHIFT+N.

In Google Chrome you can recognize an Incognito window by its logo in the top-right corner: an image of a person in disguise (hat and dark glasses).

The icon signaling that you are incognito in Google Chrome

How to start Mozilla Firefox in Private Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

To enable Private Browsing in Mozilla Firefox, click or tap the "Open menu" button in the top right side of the browser window. It has the shape of three parallel lines. Then, choose "New Private Window."

Open a private window in Mozilla Firefox

A new private window is opened with content blocking. Firefox explains that when browsing in private mode, it does not keep your browsing history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. However, the files that you download and the bookmarks you make are saved. One important difference between Firefox and other browsers is that it explicitly warns you that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or employer can still track the pages that you visit. Another difference is that it enables by default content blocking so that online trackers do not collect information about your browsing behavior.

Private browsing in Mozilla Firefox

For keyboard users, the shortcut for Private Browsing in Mozilla Firefox is CTRL+SHIFT+P.

To check if the current Mozilla Firefox window has Private Browsing enabled, look for the purple mask icon in the top right corner of the browser window. If it is there, you are browsing privately.

The icon for the private browsing in Mozilla Firefox

How to start Microsoft Edge in InPrivate browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

Microsoft Edge shares the same name for its private browsing mode as the old Internet Explorer: InPrivate browsing. To start a new browser window in this mode, click or tap the "Settings and more" button in the top-right corner. It looks like three dots. In the menu that is shown, choose "New InPrivate window."

Open an InPrivate window in Microsoft Edge

The keyboard shortcut for opening an InPrivate session in Microsoft Edge is CTRL+SHIFT+P.

You can tell that you are using InPrivate browsing in Microsoft Edge by looking at the top-left corner of the app window. There, you see the InPrivate label in a blue square.

The icon for InPrivate browsing in Microsoft Edge

How to start Opera in Private Browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+N)

To open a private browsing window in Opera, you have to click or tap the "Customize and control Opera" button found on the top left side of the browser window. Then, click or tap "New private window."

Open a private window in Opera

A new Private Browsing window opens, giving you brief information about this browsing mode.

You are also informed that you can turn on the built-in VPN for more privacy. This button is found on the left side of the address bar. Extensions are also disabled in this mode.

Private browsing window in Opera

The keyboard shortcut to open a Private Browsing window in Opera is CTRL+SHIFT+N.

To check if you are Private Browsing in Opera, watch for the sunglasses logo on the left side of the tab you are on.

Private browsing icon in Opera

How to start Internet Explorer in InPrivate browsing (CTRL+SHIFT+P)

Microsoft uses the term InPrivate for private browsing in Internet Explorer. In the desktop version of Internet Explorer, to enable this mode, you have to open the Tools menu by clicking the little gear icon on the top-right. Then, hover over Safety to open the corresponding submenu and click InPrivate Browsing.

Open an InPrivate window in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer opens a new browser window, where the following notification is displayed: "InPrivate is turned on. InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session." The browser does not store cookies, temporary Internet files, the browsing history, and other data. By default, it also disables extra toolbars and extensions you have installed in Internet Explorer. For keyboard users, the shortcut for InPrivate browsing is CTRL+SHIFT+P.

InPrivate window in Internet Explorer

You can check if you are using InPrivate browsing, by looking at the left side of the address bar. If you see the logo highlighted below, InPrivate browsing is turned on in Internet Explorer.

InPrivate browsing marker in Internet Explorer

Which private browsing mode do you like best?

Private browsing is especially useful when you are on a public computer, and you do not want your browsing history to be accessible by the next person using that Windows computer. However, you may also have other reasons to use it when working on your computers and devices. Try this browsing mode in all your favorite web browsers and then share with us which private browsing mode you prefer and in what browser. Do you think that Mozilla Firefox offers the best privacy? Or is it Opera? What about Google Chrome?